Friday, 23 December 2011
The run up to Christmas
With Mum through her cough and back feeling ready for some more house-bashing, we head back for the house in Roscommon. The children are still at school, so we do the school runs first and also call off in Roscommon town for some essentials, not eventually arriving at the house till about midday. Mum heads for the caravan to make coffee, Dad into the house to get the usual fires going, one in the hearth in the living room, the other in the range. Rather fortunately we have discovered a stack of very old, almost rotted through sacks of anthracite on a pallet amongst the grass by the skeleton formerly known as "hay barn". The pallet and bags are almost gone but the anthracite is made of sterner stuff and a half bucket lobbed onto the range fire or into the real fire lasts hours and gives more heat than the peat briquettes or turves.
As a result of all this daily heat we are noticing that the poor old house, which has seen 15 sequential unheated cold damp Roscommon winters is starting to dry out and warm up nicely. There is residual heat in the place and the copper tank is still nice and warm when we first go in of a morning and we also think that chopping off the plasterboard walls, taking down ceilings and clearing away rubbish and dodgy floor layers lets the warm air get in and around helping to dry out the damp-traps. This morning we even noticed that the kitchen floor and the floor of the 'foyer' are properly dry in the morning despite rain all night, we have not seen that before - they've always been damp from wet walked in on our feet and boots the previous day.
Over these two days the jobs are to take down the ceiling of the right hand bedroom (east end), to take down the ceiling and the plaster board walls of the kitchen (plus cutting through the old plumbing of the ancient kitchen unit, removing it and breaking it up into scrap metal and bonfire). For a bit of fun we also clear out the out-buildings we are calling "the office" and "the original cottage". The latter is named because although it is now a byre, it has a chimney and a human sized door either side, making us think it was originally human habitation, abandoned when the new house was built circa 1900. Among the junk we are tossing out (old rotted wooden barrels and oil drums, wood-worm ridden farm implements and tools, numerous sacks of old baler twine bundles, bags of bags and an old shipping luggage chest labelled Queenstown. Queenstown as far as we know was renamed Cobh (Cove) in the 40's, so how old this old chest was we weren't sure, but it was crumbling with woodworm so it went on the bonfire.
Enough for now.